Love, Romance & Chocolate

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Grade: B-

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Emma – (Lacey Chabert), a food stylist

Luke – (Will Kemp), a chocolatier in Bruges

 

Movie opens and we are in Luke’s chocolate shop in Bruges. Is Luke tempering chocolate on a wood table? Because that is not how tempering works.

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Now we are back in New York. Emma, a food stylist,  walks into work while listening to a Dutch language class on her headphones. She sets out 6 homemade cupcakes and a “Happy Early Valentine’s Day” sign. Either they have a really small staff at her workplace or Emma does not know how to bring goodies to work.

Wait a minute, the icing flavor she created is Lavender-Raspberry-Mint which sounds super gross, so yeah, 6 cupcakes should be plenty.

 

Emma is meeting Todd for lunch. They have been dating for six months and they are going on a vacation to Bruges.

 

My opinion: This seems way too early in a relationship to be taking a European vacation with someone. At 6 months, I guarantee you’ve still hidden a significant amount of baggage from your boo, and it is way too early for the big reveal. For example, do long trips on pressurized planes give you gas? Does jet lag make you look like you died three days ago? These are things you may want to hold off on sharing until much later in the relationship when commitments have been made and pets have been chosen.

 

Emma’s mother sent her photos and love letters written by her grandparents when she found out Emma was going to Bruges. Apparently, her grandparents, (who I am going to call Gram-gram and Pee-paw), had their first date at a Valentine’s Dance held at the palace in Bruges. Emma is obsessed with the letters and carries them around in a red satin heart box everywhere she goes.

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This is Emma’s boyfriend Todd. Todd looks super bored by all her stories of Gram-gram and Pee-paw.

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Here is the black and white photo of Gram-gram and Pee-paw on their first date.

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Emma is talking to Todd, “Pee-paw was studying abroad, and Gram-gram was a diplomat’s daughter when they met…oh, but I’ve already told you all this before haven’t I?”

 

“Yes……you did,” says bored Todd.

Emma ignores his face and tells him she has booked a chocolate tasting tour for them because it includes a trip to the palace ballroom where the photo of her grandparents was taken.

 

Todd says, “Sorry, no-can-do” because he is going to Albany for a new job and he breaks up with her. Oh dear, Emma could care less and decides to go to Bruges on her own.

Emma apparently has a lot of free time that she uses to over-decorate her office for a holiday no one puts up decorations for unless you are an elementary school teacher.

Emma’s office is weird: three heart boxes on the desk, 1 paper heart hanging from the lamp, 1 red heart lamp, and 2 enormous Valentine’s Day posters. Who hangs Valentines posters in their office?

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Emma travels to Bruges. She meets Marie who owns the hotel. The actress who plays Marie does a horrible accent – I can’t tell what country she is trying to pretend she is from. The country of Terrible? I hope so, because then when people ask her where her accent is from she could reply, “My accent is Terrible.”

Also, why is she meeting her guests out on the street?

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Marie tells Emma that a royal wedding will be taking place soon between Prince Frederick and his bride Lady Annabelle.

 

Emma goes for a walk to check out the town and meets the male lead, Luke, when he will not get out of her way for a picture.

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In a moment she will ask him to move a couple of inches to the left so she can take a photo. Question: Why doesn’t she just move a couple of inches to the right? Oh, I forgot. She’s American…never mind.

 

FYI in the end he doesn’t move at all so…douchey? Meanwhile, Emma continues to ramble at him. She tries, and fails, to say “I am a tourist,” in Dutch, (Ik ben een Toerist). Wow, Emma sucks at learning words. “Tourist” is basically “tourist” in both languages.

 

Also, why are you trying to tell this guy you’re a tourist? I think he gets it. You’re speaking English, you told him by mistake that you love him (give it 2 weeks), you’re taking photos of freaking everything, and you are massacring the Dutch language.

 

Dude is weird since he says absolutely nothing the entire time and just gives her odd, googly looks like this one as she jabbers on.

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Back at the hotel cocktail party Marie tells all the hotel guests about the Royal chocolate competition which will decide the Royal Chocolatier.

 

Emma feels a bit self-conscious at the cocktail party since she is the only one who is not part of a couple, so Marie introduces her to Barbara and Jake at the reception. Barbara says, ”nice to meet you,” and then rudely dumps Emma to follow a fast-moving waiter with a tray of food. #priorities.

 

This begs the question, what kind of cocktail party has servers who don’t stop so that you need to run down your mini quiche?

 

The next scene takes place during a Chocolate tour at a shop called Chocolate Simon and Fils. OMG the chocolatier is the googly-eyed guy!

 

Also, please notice that the same valentine’s poster and paper heart that was in her office are now in this store in Bruges. FYI Hallmark, people who watch your movies do not have short term memory loss.

 

The chocolatier speaks! He is British! His name is Luke!

 

Here are photos of the tour group making chocolates. Notice how super messy the table is. You don’t temper chocolate on a table and leave half of it there and just work on top of it. Luke does not understand basic food sanitation. If Ratatouille makes a surprise celebrity appearance I will not be surprised.

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Luke tells Emma not to mix the flavors in her chocolate because he wants to stick to the recipes that have been in his family for hundreds of years, but she completely ignores him. To top this off she actually gives him samples of her chocolate insubordination on the way out. Chick’s got balls…chocolate balls.

 

Oh dear, the Palace is closed to the general public because of the royal wedding and all of the tours have been cancelled. Emma is sad.

 

Another wrinkle! Luke’s chocolate shop is falling on hard times – his recovery scheme is to win the Royal Chocolate Competition, be crowned Royal Chocolatier, and then business will be booming.

 

Wow, Luke that is quite the strategic plan, and super doable! But, hey, since you’re dreaming all this anyway, why not add in a sparkly unicorn who will poop out your prize money?

 

Side note: Our viewing group has come up with a back-up plan for you, Luke. Since we all know you from the Step Up movies, if this plan fails then we say you should “Take it to the Streets” and go win that big dance off competition that is probably happening right now. (For the precise location please see the sparkly unicorn). Break out the grande jete, Will Kemp!

 

The next day, Emma goes back to the chocolate shop to buy a gift for her mom, and Luke very nicely gives her a free chocolate – a raspberry flavored one that was his grandfather’s recipe. She takes one bite and says, “It’s incredible. Have you ever thought of adding a little lavender to it?”

 

Geez! This chick and her lavender! If you love it that much why don’t you just marry it? That way this movie could be over.

 

Side note: The cracking of the chocolate as people bite into them constantly during this movie is super annoying. It is not fun to watch other people eat food close up or talk with chocolate in their mouth. I have had to watch Lacey C. do this at least this many times (see below)….hella lame Hallmark.

The Chocolate Competition: The contest works like this - Prince Frederick and Lady Anabel will visit each chocolatier for a meet and greet. The next day all the chocolatiers will bring their chocolate entries to the palace where a winner, and the new Royal chocolatier, will be chosen.

 

Petra, Luke’s assistant who is pregnant, has been having contractions so her husband and Luke really don’t want her working in the shop. Luckily Emma, a complete stranger who does not speak the language, offers to help out (and by ‘help out’ she means change everything).

 

Emma maintains that, as she’s a food stylist and works with desserts every day, she is a good fit to work in a chocolate shop where all the customers read and speak Dutch and she does not.

 

What’s in it for her? Well, since all the contestants in the competition will be going to the Palace for the Valentine Gala she will get to go as well and then she can finally see where her Gram-gram and Pee-paw had their first date.

 

Luke agrees, (obvs).

 

So Emma starts working at his store. She dons an apron and then points to a bowl of chocolate and says, “What’s that?”

 

We’re doomed.

 

Summary of Luke’s Wasted Day 1 - Emma has “helped” by standing and pointing and asking a trillion questions. Luke has given answers like, “that’s a spoon” and “those are your pants.”

 

Next Up: Emma’s weird suggestion: Apparently, Emma is bored of chocolate making so she says to Luke, “We are in Bruges! It’s almost Valentine’s Day and there is love all around us! Let’s go outside and get some inspiration! Luke thinks they need to stay there and make chocolates for the contest. Emma says he has no ideas anyway so WTF.

 

Although super harsh, Emma is actually correct about Luke’s utter failure to produce an idea, so they go out and spend money he does not have to buy chocolates from his competitors. Not a bad plan if they want to know what flavors NOT to make, but now I will need to watch them crack open more chocolates with their teeth and talk with their mouth full.

 

Later, Emma is helping Marie decorate since evidently, she has no staff to run her large hotel. Emma tells Marie that Luke shot down her unexpected and out of the box ideas of curry and wasabi chocolate. Is she intentionally thinking of the grossest flavors you could pair with chocolate? Is this what “out of the box” means? If so, then how about toothpaste truffles or spaghetti sauce bon bons? Look everyone, I’m an “out of the box” chocolatier!

 

Emma sells Luke on the idea of being adventurous by making him a cherry cola cupcake. He takes one bite and magically “gets it.” Looks like all that inspirational walking around town was a total waste of time… my time.

 

Max (Luke’s competition for Royal Chocolatier), comes into Luke’s shop after-hours to give him an insulting offer to buy the place. Yeah, this always works. Also, a turtleneck with a sport coat and vest? Get used to it viewers.

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Next, Emma runs into Luke’s shop grasping her heart box of letters to her chest. She tells Luke that Gram-gram and Pee-paw’s story is the inspiration they need to make their special chocolate!

 

What?? How do words translate to flavors? I don’t follow her logic.

 

Here is Luke. He has closed his shop to walk around town with Emma and read her Gram-gram and Pee-paw letters. Closing his store on a whim is why he has no money BTW.

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Also, I would have thought it would be easier to read things sitting down at a table in his store than walking over cobblestone streets but what do I know?

 

In the course of their conversation Emma asks him this question, “You don’t think you can fall in love in an instant?” (Uh oh, red flag, Luke… RED FLAG!)

 

His immediate reaction: The side eye of judgement.

Next, they are working together in the chocolate shop where Luke is teaching Emma to temper chocolate just like Patrick Swayze taught Demi Moore to make a clay pot in Ghost. This would be romantic if I had not already seen this move about a billion times in other movies.

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Luke does not think the chocolate they test is good enough…guess the magic love letter walkathon didn’t work Emma! More time wasted... my time.

 

Later that evening, Max runs into Emma at what can only be described as an All-Night Valentine’s Farmer’s Market and since she is carrying a giant map and looks confused, he stops to help her basically understand how a map works.

 

BTW who uses giant maps anymore when there are a thousand apps on your phone that would do the same thing? Emma is not tech literate.

 

When Max asks her where she wants to go Emma replies that she doesn’t really know, she’s looking for adventure. Is there a red X on her map that says “ADVENTURE” because otherwise what is she using a map for at all?

 

“Second star on the right and straight on til morning… that’ll take you to Adventure Street.”

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The next morning Emma is sitting at breakfast with her scone and tea and…. she is reading Gram-gram and Pee-paw’s letters again???

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Wait a flippin’ second, wasn’t she just reading these last night before bed?

 

YES SHE WAS!

Max runs into Emma the next day in line at a chocolate shop and she finds out he is a successful chocolatier (as opposed to an unsuccessful chocolatier like Luke – geez, this chick really attracts chocolatiers).

 

He gives her a tour of the shop and tells her he likes to experiment with flavors and she says, “Me too.”

 

Why don’t these two get together? They seem like a better fit and Max seems like a nice guy… he helped her when she was lost, her took her out of a long line, he gave her a tour – if he can just never wear a turtleneck with a vest and sport coat again then I say he’s in it to win it.

 

Next scene: Emma is in the kitchen with Luke where she is trying, and failing, at chocolate making. I thought the plan was for her to help in the front of the store, but apparently the week before the big contest is the perfect time to have a novice chocolatier around who will make a million mistakes and waste a significant amount of Luke’s time and product.

 

Or it could be because she is pretty. In which case she could probably pour her melted chocolate on the floor and tap dance in it and he would just think she was adorable.

 

Somehow they end up in a cupcake contest and… yawn.

 

Next, Marie sets up a little romantic table for them by the canal with champagne and roses. As they are sitting there Luke says, “I have an idea!” and he takes Emma out on the canal with champagne and roses…. hmmm, I don’t follow his logic.

 

Adam Levine sings “Just the Way You Look Tonight” and they touch over chocolate covered strawberries, other than that they look in opposite directions during the entire ride.

 

Question: If you are drinking and trying to point out something at the same time, what does that sound like?

Here is the most unromantic romantic selfie ever. Co-workers get closer than this.

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Later that night Max runs into them sporting a new turtleneck color to go with the vest and sport coat he has worn for the past week. I hate Max.

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Luke is upset because he thinks Emma thinks Max’s chocolates are good enough to win the competition. He says goodbye for the night and goes back to his chocolate shop to make sad, inferior chocolates.

 

The next day the Prince and his fiancée visit Luke’s shop. The royal couple mentions the words cherry, dark chocolate and true love so if Luke and Emma do not make some sort of dark chocolate cherry truffle for the contest then they are a couple of morons.

 

Emma and Luke get to work! Holy s*** they are disgusting slobs. Who works like this with food? I guarantee their table is a health code violation. Also, ever heard of a hairnet? A hat? A shower cap? A bobby pin?

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Here is Max’s shop. Which chocolates would you rather eat?

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Next scene: Obligatory dress shopping for the ball. Okay, I like looking at dresses… you may continue.

 

Finally, Luke figures out his entry for the chocolate competition. He uses Emma’s cherry cola cake on the bottom and some kind of truffle on top and there’s a heart somewhere… I wasn’t really clear on the details. All I know is he drew a picture, they make a huge mess and then poof! there it was.

 

They taste test it with some rando people and everyone loves it! Luke and Emma run away from the group so they can hug and twirl around in private. Finally, we see a moment of attraction between these two, and only 1 hour and 28 minutes into the movie!

 

Back to making chocolate…

 

The next scene pans across a disgustingly dirty table full of bowls, cocoa bits, used piping bags, and melted mounds of chocolate to end finally on the pristine looking chocolate entries they will be submitting. Please note, Emma has been working with food all day with her artfully curled hair flowing gently across her shoulders…gross.

 

At the palace they turn in their chocolate entry, which they named “True Love Chocolate Valentine Petit Four” (yeesh), and Emma sees the statue of the bust which is in the photo with her grandparents. I guess she is moved by it, but Lacey Chabert is such a mild actress that it is sort of hard to tell. I mean the whole movie is ostensibly about this moment, right? Shouldn’t someone be taking her photo by the statue? Didn’t Emma’s Mom send her the letters in the first place? I think Mom deserves to be given a photo. No one ever remembers Mom. Poor fake Mom… sniff.

 

Luke leaves soon after, and Max asks Emma out for coffee to celebrate and she says “Sure,” since she’s a friendly type of gal. Over their coffee Max tells her that Luke’s business is going under, and she is hurt that Luke didn’t tell her this himself. I totally feel you girlfriend. You’ve wasted 11 days and 12 cupcakes on this guy and he won’t let you in on his most embarrassing, humiliating failure? What a loser.

 

Max and Emma are still talking out on the street after getting coffee and Luke walks up behind them with a bouquet of flowers. I’m pretty sure these are for Emma, although how he knew where to find her is a “Hallmark Movie and Mystery.”

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He sees Max touch Emma’s elbow (see below) and assumes that means they are in love with each other. (FYI in Hallmark-land this can actually be true).

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Now Luke is heartbroken. "That was my elbow", he thinks.

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The flowers, which never did anything to anyone, get thrown on a nearby something or other and Luke walks away with defeated shoulders.

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Next, Max sows seeds of discontent and suspicion in both Luke and Emma separately. The details don’t matter because I don’t care.

 

BTW this guy is everywhere – he has literally bumped into both of the Leads 7 times in the last week, so either he is stalking them or Bruges is the size of a football field.

 

Emma goes to Luke’s store the next day and they are really awkward with each other. Thanks Max!

 

Emma decides to go to the dance solo which is very “Pretty in Pink” of her. Luke takes a horse drawn carriage to the ball which is very “Cinderella” of him. However, this makes zero sense in this movie since he is not a girl in a pouffy white ball gown.

 

Luke apologizes to Emma for not bringing her to the gala and says the last two weeks have been magical and blah blah blah. He asks her to stay with him in Bruges where they can be true partners.

 

He tells her he loves her in Dutch so she will not understand it. Then they make out in the middle of the palace dance floor like peasants. FYI to be clear they’ve known each other for two weeks.

 

They win! And receive… a golden wing thingy? Is that supposed to be royal? Because it looks like it just broke off of something else.

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Fun fact: There are 50 people at this dance – I counted. My Mom’s senior center movie night draws a bigger crowd (or maybe Bruges is the size of a football field).

 

Next, they are shown making out in the now his/hers chocolate shop. She sets out 6 cupcakes to his 3,000 chocolates so basically her life has been made.

 

Question: Why does she always make 6 cupcakes for lots of people yet she’ll make Luke 12 at one sitting? I don’t follow her logic.

 

Pros:

● The location is great.

● Lacey Chabert’s outfits

 

Cons:

● Now I want some chocolate and I don’t have any.

● Nonexistent chemistry between the leads.

 

 

Credits: All photos, unless otherwise indicated, have come from the Hallmark Movie “Love, Romance and Chocolate” which can be viewed on the Hallmark Channel

Vector Art Link: Vectors by <a href="https://www.vecteezy.com">Vecteezy.com</a>